BY KRISTY DAVIS
As the voting dwindled down on Tuesday night and election results started coming in, citizens watching the numbers saw that the Republicans were gaining ground in Congress, and were on the way to becoming the majority. At the end of the night, with 47 states’ results entered, it was announced that the GOP had taken control of both the House and the Senate. For the first time in eight years, the GOP had control of Congress, and more importantly, the President did not have the majority on his side.
What This Means: Having a Democratic president and a Republican Congress provokes a lot of concern about whether anything will actually get done, and whether anything will get passed, because of the unending differences in ideology. The Democrats, who are out of the spotlight on Capitol Hill for the first time since 2006, will have to rely heavily on filibustering to stop bills and laws that they don’t agree with, and Obama will most likely be seen vetoing laws in the coming two years. With the opposite party leading Congress, Obama should be expecting Congress to pass controversial bills that he cannot sign as a Democratic president, and Democrats are hoping that the President will exercise his power to block bills more than he has in the past (Obama has not blocked a bill since 2010).
Who To Watch: Keep your eyes on Senator Mitch McConnell and Representative John Boehner. Senator McConnell is widely expected to be the next Senate Majority Leader, and Boehner is the current Speaker of the House of Representatives. Seeing as the leaders of both branches of Congress are finally in the same party, it’s expected that the agenda for the bills they are trying to pass and repeal will be revealed as soon as McConnell is officially made the Majority Leader. However, these leaders released what their main legislative intentions are on November 5th—McConnell and Boehner pledged to spend the next two years doing everything in their power to repeal the Affordable Care Act, politically nicknamed “Obamacare.” The attempt to repeal this will be met with outrageous Democratic opposition in the House, and most importantly with a presidential veto. Even though the GOP is in control of the Senate with 52 seats currently, they would need 60 to override a presidential veto. Therefore, the Republicans have to be very realistic with what they would ideally like to see versus what has a chance of passing on Obama’s desk.
What About Everyone Else? Outside of Washington D.C, gubernational elections showed many Republican victories, not only in close-race states, but also heavily Democratic states such as Illinois (Obama’s home state), Massachusetts, and Maryland. This could spell out trouble for the resolution of major social issues, namely same-sex marriage and abortion laws. Tennessee has already amended their state constitution for stricter anti-abortion laws and their newly elected Republican representative, Courtney Rogers, intends to push for even stricter legislation once the new Congress convenes in 2015. Since the GOP have taken control of governor’s mansions across the nation, liberal issues such as legalization of marijuana will be much more likely to be tabled until the next Congress is selected.
Overall, the Republican sweep at both the national and the state level makes for a busy last two years of Obama’s term in office. Congressional compromise is mandatory if anything is going to be agreed on between a Republican-led Congress and a Democratic President. Luckily, some Republicans that were elected to office were elected on platforms of “compassionate conservatism”—meaning they were willing to adopt slightly more liberal views to ensure not only votes, but also successful terms as Congressmen. The split on Capitol Hill seems to be a cry from voters across the nation to have both parties work together for once and get something done, instead of having the two parties in such strong opposition that the government is unable to function. Since Obama’s election, Republicans have been first in line to blame Obama for the failure of the economy and the lack of results for the American middle class. Now that the Republicans control Congress, they will have no one left to blame if they cannot produce the results they’ve been promising. Though both the Democrats and the GOP have been expressing concern with the lack of compromise between parties in the past, hopefully this election has swept in some Congressmen that have a pragmatic, rational way of leading this country in the upcoming years, and that have a mindset for compromise.